Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Music for Guitar and Violin composed 1952 - 1956
Bruno BARTOLOZZI Serenata
Waldemar BLOCH Sonate
Siegfried BEHREND Spielmusik
Albert REITER Sonatine
Otto SIEGL Sonatine in d minor
Jenö TAKÁCS Divertimento
Jan TRUHLÁR Zwei Kompositionen
DUO 46 - Matthew Gould, Spanish Guitar & Beth Ilana Schneider, Violin
Guitar Plus Records GPR 100198 [50:50]

Ironically the programme time of this disc (see above) really rather sums up the whole enterprise, in a number of different ways. Of the two players it is Matthew Gould who provides the finer musicianship and demonstrates complete control over his 1995 Mischa Roberts 'classical' guitar. Perhaps this is only to be expected on a specialist guitar label. Unfortunately Beth Ilana Schneider suffers from occasional lapses of intonation and her choice of a tight and closed sounding 1985 Bulfari violin for three of the seven works hardly helps.

Then there's the music. The back of the booklet incorporates a short essay - perhaps prose poem might more adequately describe it - by David M. Williams entitled Power, Perfection and Paranoia which amusingly parodies and mocks the extraordinary post-war American society of the '50s with its contradictions, growth of suburbanisation, female and minority suppression, McCarthyism and the growing dominance of television. The Cold War was growing ever colder. Printed separately from the normal (and much more sober) sleeve notes, one can only assume that Williams is providing a background to the difficult and often unsatisfactory post-war era in musical composition, without actually saying so. If this is the case, then he's absolutely right about the works featured on this CD.

xxxxx Serenata by Bruno Bartolozzi and Sonate by Waldemar Bloch are both typical examples of the arid note-spinning so common at this period among a younger generation of composers who were finding it almost impossible to break away from the strictures of pre-war modernism and the shadow of the Viennese 'masters'. In particular Bloch's Sonate sounds more like an academic exercise than real music, wit without melody, a meandering slow movement is followed by a finale that hurries and scurries for effect, rather than any discernible effectiveness. Well-known German guitarist and composer Siegfried Behrend surprisingly fails to improve matters with a tentatively tonal five-movement suite, Spielmusik which somehow fails to gel.

But that's just about fifty percent of the disc's contents. The anonymous sleeve-note writer squeamishly describes the remainder as old-fashioned and conservative, yet to these ears it is considerably more inventive, moving and significant. Albert Reiter's Sonatine would not sound out of place in a concert of today's contemporary music. Suddenly accelerandi and 'rits' are back in favour, the players are requested to incorporate shifts in colour and timbre (particularly the guitar), the music moves from soft to loud and each movement has a point of climax and a meaningful closing passage.

Much the same could be said of Otto Siegl's Sonatine in d minor and Jenö Takács' Divertimento, the former displaying a fine use of dynamic in the outer movements with an affecting slow movement, the latter, in three very different movements stylistically, a well crafted homage à JS Bach in the opening Praeludium, a slow movement incorporating the full range of the violin in long held notes and chords (and bird calls) punctuated by brief chordal comments from the guitar, and a Gigue finale worthy of repeat listening even though the violinist occasionally finds the music taxing.

Finally Jan Truhlár's Zwei Kompositionen ends the disc in a mood utterly remote from thoughts of post-war austerity, doubt and political tensions. The first movement is a dance and, particularly in the context of the rest of this CD, could almost be described as light music. The Romanze features a real gypsy-like melody (one only wishes the Bulfari could allow the player to 'sing' more) and takes us gently back to music as art form.

So, it's 50/50. A curiously contradictory disc, clearly of serious intent, yet aspects such as the use of the words "Hit List' instead of 'track list', the revelation in the booklet that 'FM1' (on the cover) actually means Funeral Music One (not sure why) and the preposterous claim on the back of the CD that 'The first time you hear this recording will be one of the most startling experiences of your life' all conspire to a feeling of confusion.

I am only half convinced.

(For more information about DUO 46 visit


Simon Foster

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